Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Update...

Well, it has been a crazy summer - with some ups and downs. My niece Megan came to stay with me at the end of June. I really enjoy having her come visit each summer. However, a couple weeks after she arrived, I lost my job due to a reduction in force. Other than no longer having an income, it was kind of nice to be able to spend time with her.

We went to the zoo quite a bit (I have a membership pass), and made a weekend trip to San Antonio when I went there for an interview. We also had a lot of fun going to Tiger Safari where she got to actually hold and feed a baby tiger. As usual, she helped with the dogs.

She did some freestyle with Pixie and also ran her in agility. Shelby and Pixie are actually in the same agility class, so Megan ran Pixie this summer. They really work nicely together. In July, my parents, sister, and older niece were all here for the Youth World Quarter Horse Show for about two weeks, and then everyone except Megan went home for about 10 days. But they were back to help Nicole move into OSU.

We didn't have any freestyle competitions this summer, but Megan did run Pixie at the TDAA trial in Norman. They got Pixie's first standard Q and were really close to a second, but had a dropped bar. They were also able to finish up Pixie's Games I title - her first agility title. :)


My mom and her dog, Oakley, also competed so it was a fun weekend. Shelby finished her Intermediate Standard title, and earned a couple Q's towards her Games III title. So, all in all - it was a fun weekend. So, now that summer is over and the family has all gone home - I'm focusing mostly on trying to find a job...





Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Competition Preparation...

I do like to film each of the routines I am planning on competing, so that I can get an idea on how it looks and areas where we can focus our training to get the most improvement/polish. This is Pixie's new HTM routine.
video

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gearing Up For Competition...

Well, I am excited to announce that we will be having our very own freestyle competition right here in Oklahoma mid-September. So, we're back to working on getting our routines ready. Last weekend, we filmed a couple of the routines to see where they were and whether they still feel good. We have quite a bit of work to do still - but it's good to have a goal ahead.

Shelby's Mary Poppins Routine
video

Circus Beagles (Brace)
video

Playing With Pixie's New Music
video

Monday, June 7, 2010

WCFO World Event Results Are In...

Well, it has taken a little time to get the results, but they were worth waiting for:

2009 Junior World Champion Heelwork To Music Level I
Megan & Bonnie performing to "LoveBug"

2009 Junior World Champion Musical Freestyle Level II
Megan & Nellie performing to "UP!"

2009 World Champion Beginner Brace
Kris with Shelby & Pixie performing to "Hot Honey Rag"

2009 World Champion Novice Pairs
Kris & Roxie with Laura & Tilly performing to "He's A Pirate"

2009 World Champion Pro Stars Special
Kris with Shelby & Roxie performing to "Riverdance"

2009 Reserve World Champion Pairs Beginners
Kris & Shelby with Megan & Pixie performing to "Let's Get Together"

2009 Reserve World Champion Pro Stars Heelwork To Music
Kris & Shelby performing to "Once Upon A December"

Friday, May 28, 2010

Franken-Bonnie


Well, Bonnie is starting to feel better. She went in a couple weeks ago to have a mammary tumor removed. She got the staples out recent and seems to be back to her normal self. The official results indicated "ademocarcinoma".
The good news is that if they were able to remove it all, the prognosis is good. However, the biopsy did indicate that the tumor extended all the way to the margins and that a blood supply was involved, so the official prognosis is "guarded".
She's back to feeling like her normal self, so we're happy about that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pixie's Tail Dances A Reel...

or a jig, or whatever this song might be. As some of you know, Pixie is more or less the most mellow dog I've ever known. At least her tail is happy!
video

Friday, April 16, 2010

Michele Pouliot Comes To OKC

Well, no rest for the weary... My friend Karen arrived from AZ on Thursday afternoon, and she helped me finish up some last minute errands we needed to take care of for the seminar. Michele's flight came in late - and was even later due to a weather delay, and we were even later due to construction on the highway... so, we finally rolled into bed about 1am on Thursday.

Friday was a great day. We started off with a private lesson with Shelby. Michele had some good ideas for a routine concept I have playing with for some time - but, boy do we have a lot of work cut out for us now! We had another private lesson with Michele in the afternoon to work with Pixie - again, she had some really good suggestions on how to go back and work some of the basics to hopefully eliminate Pixie's idea of running out of the ring.

We had a nice dinner with Michele and the gals from Little Rock on Friday night. Saturday began the two day workshop. We had 18 working teams and 10 auditors - what an amazing group of freestylers!

The seminar was fantastic - one of the best I have been to in quite a long time. If you have an opportunity to attend one of Michele's seminars - RUN, don't walk to get in line to sign-up. I simply cannot recommend her highly enough. She is not only a fountain of knowledge, but just a lovely person as well... you couldn't hope for a better combination.

I'm hoping to sign-up for her online class starting next month. The "training" aspect of freestyle is the part that I usually find the least "fun" - so I need to make sure I have a way to stay on track and keep motivated to reinforce some of the foundation work I've been a little neglectful of lately.

Of course, I was thinking of taking some time off of freestyle this year - but Darn, That Michele! - I am now full of all sorts of ideas... even considering hosting a competition here in OKC in the fall. We'll see...

PA Competition

Well, our first competition this year came a little bit earlier than expected when I made the decision to attend the freestyle competition in Pittsburgh, PA that was held at the end of March. Roxie & Shelby needed one leg to finish their Brace Championship, and since Roxie is getting older - I felt that taking this chance was the right thing to do.

We entered Roxie & Shelby's brace routine, Shelby & Pixie's brace routine, Shelby's MF routine, and Pixie's HTM routine. The brace routine has been a challenge since Roxie had a seizure during the routine about a year and a half ago. It wasn't so much a technical challenge for her - as it was an emotional one as I know she still carried some anxiety about doing the routine with Shelby.

Our last practice before we left for PA did not go as well as I would have hoped. After some initial confidence in our "new" routine, I could tell that Roxie was very anxious - and then a miscue that resulted in me almost falling on Roxie and actually stepping on Shelby only added to the concern. Of course, we only had a mere three days before we left for the competition. I knew I had two choices - worry about whether Roxie will shut down, or try to find a solution that might help. Going back to when we made a music/costume/choreography change for the last competition with good results - I decided that I would change out the music and rechoreograph on my drive to PA (I had a good 16+ hours in the car).

Fortunately, I found a piece that I really liked and was editing like mad the night before we left. I had the new choreography planned even before I was done editing. I really liked that the new music had a much softer feel and not so heavy a beat/rhythm - I knew this would make it easier for Roxie somehow.

We had a nice drive - just a bit of weather. My friend Chuck, who runs the beagle rescue, tagged along for the ride as his family lives in Pittsburgh and he hadn't been able to get back home for several years to visit. So, it worked out well. Of course, Shelby went all kinds of crazy when she saw him... once she figured out he'd be in the car for a while - she FINALLY settled down. Chuck is one of Shelby's absolute favorite people.

We got to the hotel on Friday, dropped off our "gear" at the competition - three crates, one chimney, two circus buckets, three clothes racks, one chair, 6 costumes... all the while I was thinking "why I am unloading this much stuff? I can't possibly NEED this much stuff!" Then it was off to find a grocery store to pick up hot dogs, and then off to bed.

Saturday morning started with Roxie & Shelby's brace. As we entered the ring, I could tell Roxie was a little unsure. The music started and she responded - a bit slower and a bit less enthusiastic than normal - but she hit every cue and performed as best as I could hope. Shelby was an absolute rock - totally focused and needing very little additional direction from me, which was nice because then I could really focus on supporting Roxie through the routine.

I really enjoyed the new music and the choreography just seemed to "happen" - I didn't even really have to think about it... they did as well as I could have hopped for... and managed to get their final Q!

I promised Roxie that if they qualified on the brace on the first day, I wouldn't make her do it again on Sunday - so I bumped the entry over to the individual class and danced with just her. We had a great time and I saw her be able to relax and have fun with the performance. Roxie is now "officially" retired. We'll continue to do freestyle - but just for us, and just for fun. We won't be pursing any titles - if some come along, great... if not, we'll just enter and do the routines we want to do because we want to do them. It seems appropriate that Roxie ended her "serious" competitive career dancing to a song called "FairyTale".

Shelby was an absolute rock all weekend, and it was a pleasure to see her so focused. We did her Mary Poppins routine and Saturday was probably one of the best performances of this routine she has done in competition.

Pixie is going through a learning phase - on both routines on Saturday (her individual HTM and her brace with Shelby), she ran out of the ring just as we started the routines. I actually think this is a good sign - as it shows she is starting to "think" on her own and not just follow me - but it is definitely something we will have to work on in practice - back to the basics!

She did better on Sunday, after an initial attempt to run out as we entered the ring for the brace routine (but before we actually started), she was going along quite well... until I cued a beg and realized I was getting a "oops, gotta poop now" instead. Since I didn't want it to hit the ring - I just reached down and caught it... to everyone's amusement of course. I guess I just figured that is what soap and hot water is for! I definitely didn't want it to be a problem for whoever came in the ring next - and I know from having "dogs" that are really just noses with four legs, that it would still smell "different" (either of poop or of cleaner)... so it was just a natural reaction - of course, I ended up winning the "Fastest Scooper" award!

But Pixie ended the weekend on a positive note and did a very nice job on her HTM routine - and was able to get a Q and finish her Novice HTM title.

We had a really great time - it was so good to see old friends and to finally meet some list friends in person. I don't often get to travel to shows in this region, so that was a lot of fun.

The drive home wasn't too bad - we had achieved a very long time goal of finishing our brace championship, and Pixie managed to finish a title as well. Of course, when we arrived home on Monday afternoon - we had little time to rest. Michele Pouliot was arriving on Thursday for the seminar I was hosting... pretty good timing, maybe she'll have some suggestions for Pixie!

New Titles...

Well, once again - I have fallen a little bit behind... we received the results of the December video competition and our pairs routine (me with Shelby & Megan with Pixie) Q'd and won a 2nd place. Not too bad for having two beagles in one routine! That finished our W-PFD (Pairs Freestyle Dog) for this routine. If Megan comes out and visits again this summer, maybe we can work on a new routine.
video

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catching Up & TDAA Trial...

Well, I've been pretty bad about posting lately. This year has been full of all kinds of "weird" for lack of a better term... mostly weird weather than has a tendency to put a damper on things. In February, we got back to working on our freestyle routines. It's been rather slow progress, but the girls have several new routines in the works.

The big "event" was our trip down to McKinney, TX for Shelby & Pixie's first agility trial this year. Neither dog was really ready for competition - but it was being held on dirt (horse barn) which is an environment that is particularly challenging for the beagle noses. So, I figured it would be a good learning experience for them.

After driving three hours in a torrential downpour (did I mention we've had "weather" this year?) - we arrived and as soon as we walked into the building, the beagle noses hit the ground like they were magnetized.

Both girls did well on their first run - Connect The Dogs - and each received a Q. This finished Shelby's Games II title and was Pixie's 2nd Q.

The standard runs were a little bit more challenging - Shelby doesn't quite understand the weaves poles yet, and Pixie is still a little confused on the table. We elected to use the standard runs as training for Shelby, and just ran past the weaves. Pixie gave everyone a good chuckle when she hopped on the table and begged.

By the middle of the third run, I could tell Pixie was beginning a mental melt-down. She tried to run out of the ring, but everyone was on top of things and kept her contained until she came back to me and finished the run. She has a very low mental and physical threshhold, and it was just more than her little brain could handle. We'll keep working to build up her stamina in working longer runs. Can't really blame her when we usually only do 4-6 obstacles at a time in class -- the long drive, new environment, and four full runs was just a bit too much.


Even though Shelby only Q'd her first of four runs - it was a good day for her. Each run got stronger as a whole with less sniffing and less distraction. She is one of the most "aware" dogs I have ever known, so new enviornments can be a little difficult for her. So, it was nice to see her improving as the day went on.


Pixie did really well. Other than the mental meltdown at the end of the day, she has shown lots of improvement - and even managed to get more points on the first game than Shelby did (she had one extra jump), and ended up winning the award for High Scoring Beagle.

It was a really fun weekend, and we're looking forward to playing more agility once we are done with our freestyle competition. Now - it's back to freestyle!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Goodnight Sweet Jacquelyn...

It is with a heavy heart that I let you know that I said goodbye to my little Jacquelyn on Saturday. She had been pretty sick since last Sunday. After showing some improvement on Friday, she took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon and we knew it was time to let her good. She passed quietly and peacefully wrapped in her favorite blanket in my arms.

Jacquelyn was a very special little girl. She came into the rescue about 3 years ago and her arthritis was so bad, the director called me with a very basic question - is there anything we can do, or is letting her go peacefully to the bridge the best option?

She could barely walk. If she laid down, she couldn't stand back up on her own. If you touched her, she'd scream in pain. I volunteered to take her to my alternative medicine vet (also a DVM) to see if accupuncture might help. The look in her eyes was so sad and empty, as if she had already given up. I “asked” Jacquelyn to give me two weeks to see if this might help, and if not - we'd let her go so she didn't have to suffer.

Each morning broke my heart as I had to get her up to go outside. She screamed, I cried. We went for treatment every other day for two weeks. By day 11, I still wasn't sure and figured we would probably be saying goodbye since she was still in so much pain. However, the morning of day 12, Jacquelyn "told" me she wanted to keep fighting. I went to go help her up that morning, but before I could get there, she made the attempt to stand up on her own. She still needed help, but it was obvious she was fighting. For the first time, she really "looked" at me and I could see her spirit returning to her eyes.

We endured several more hard months, but she showed slow and steady improvement. It was such a joy to see her personality emerge. One that liked the spotlight very much. As part of her therapy, we started doing some basic freestyle skills – mostly just heeling, a few spins, and a couple weaves to help her build muscle and improve her flexibility. I’m not entirely sure that Jacquelyn ever knew she was doing freestyle, but she enjoyed going to training with us.

A highlight for Jacquelyn was when she was able to actually compete. After a lot of thought, I made the decision to enter Jacquelyn in the handi-dandi class at the upcoming competition we were attending in Austin. I could tell that Jacquelyn LOVED being part of the gang and getting to go on the adventure. Our routine was done to the song “I’m Walkin” – because her victory was truly the fact that she was able to walk into the ring. I’ve never seen her happier. She had a grin on her face and I could tell she was having a great time. My favorite picture of Jacquelyn is of her wearing her 1st place medal. I’m very thankful to all the freestylers that were there to share Jacquelyn’s “victory” with me. I had worried when entering her that some may see how she walks (still with a limp and some obvious challenges) and think “why is she doing that to that poor old dog?” But everyone cheered her along and she seemed to enjoy soaking in all the applause. It was a very special memory for both of us.

She loved having her ears rubbed, and her motto was always seemed to be "It's Jacquelyn's world, you're just living in it." She was just such a happy dog. She knew how to open the cupboards in the kitchen and more times than not I was trying to scurry her out of the pantry. She didn't think twice of walking over her sisters to get her ears rubbed, and loved nothing more than to wander out in the yard in the sunshine making piggy noises. Well, she might have liked being dressed up more than searching the yard – she’d “run” over to get a fancy collar or to have her sweater put on.

She has really taught me so much - patience, endurance, and a love for life. I was blessed with 3 more years with her than we ever thought we'd have... but it still doesn’t seem like enough. She will be truly missed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy 2010!

Wow - what a year... 2009 was quite busy for us - we were able to go to four different freestyle competitions. We travelled to Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina - and enjoying having the year's freestyle conference right here in OKC. We finished several titles and had a very good time with friends along the way.

We said goodbye to our sweet little Nellie, and are grateful for each day we have with the senior girls.

We travelled back to California to spend the holidays with family. We had a great time. Pixie got to go tracking 3 times and we didn't even have to wear a jacket. One day we got to go play at the agility show n go. Pixie did very well, and Shelby had a good time - although she was a little distracted by all the activity going on. We even got to say HI to an old obedience friend - it was surprising to see that he was no longer showing akita's, but it was good to say HI and catch up.

Jacquelyn LOVES Christmas. She's quite the character. I was a little worried about how she would handle the drive. She is quite old and doesn't move so well - but that didn't stop her from sniffing each present under the tree every morning and going in and out the dog door. Roxie and Kelly sat with my dad whenever I was out doing something. Bonnie settled in quite nicely as well.

We had a great time giving a freestyle workshop at Jump Start Dog Sports in Yorba Linda, CA. This was our "sixth annual" and I am always so honored to be invited back by this group. They are a lot of fun and I enjoy spending the day with friends. Megan even joined me and attended the workshop with Pixie. They do a very nice job together.

So - now we're onto looking at 2010... not too much "planned" at this point. I did just send in my entries for the competition in Pittsburgh in March. I'm hoping I'll be able to finish up three titles - and then maybe we can focus a little bit more on tracking and agility. Pixie is doing very well with tracking, and Shelby really seems to enjoy doing agility - so that might be a nice change of pace.

Hopefully we'll see lots of our friends at events over the year. Best of luck on your way to achieving your own goals this year!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Photos...


Well, now that our competitions are mostly over for this year... we thought we'd share some of our favorite holiday photos. We hope you and your family and friends have a very merry christmas and a happy and safe new year!

































































September Video Competition Results

Well, the results are in - Megan & Bonnie finished their W-JFD/HTM (Junior Freestyle Dog in Heelwork To Music) title with a 1st place. Megan & Nellie finished their W-JFDX/MF (Junior Freestyle Dog Excellent in Musical Freestyle) with a 2nd place. We were really excited to receive these results, especially since little Nellie crossed over to the rainbow bridge just a few weeks after we filmed their routine. Their placements also qualified them for the first ever World Competition. So, we'll keep our fingers crossed for them.

We also qualified our pairs routine with a 2nd place - Megan dancing with Pixie and me dancing with Shelby. We entered the routine in the upcoming December video competition, so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed on that as well. This routine also qualified for the World Competition, so we'll see how that goes. I think we should get bonus points for dancing with two beagles!

I have several other routines entered in the World Competition - Roxie's ProStars MF routine, Shelby's ProStars HTM routine, Roxie & Shelby's ProStars Brace routine, and my pairs routine with Roxie and our friends Laura & Tilly. I don't anticipate we'll win any of these - but it is fun to say that we qualified and entered.

I had a really good time teaching a workshop for the Wichita Falls Obedience Club last month, and will be doing my annual visit/seminar at Jump Start Dog Sports in Yorba Linda, CA on 12/20... then I think that's it for the freestyle action this year.

After the first of the year, I'll sit down and start planning out next year's routines!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Did You Ever Have One Of Those "Doh!" Moments?

OK - so I'm at Walmart this past weekend trying to catch up on grocery shopping. On my list is laundry detergent. With 6 dogs, I do my share of laundry. Between piddle pads that I leave for the old gals while I'm at work, to dog blankets, crate pads, beds, etc... I easily do one load a day. Being single, I maybe have one or two loads on the weekends for my "stuff" (clothes and bedding, etc.).

So I'm standing there in the aisle looking at the detergent, and thinking - "wow, this stuff's expensive". I look down the line of all the brands, and I see the "Great Value" (Walmart Generic) sitting there on the shelf. I look at the Tide that I normally get because it doesn't make me itch as much as others -- as gasp, what do I see? The tide is twice the price of the generic!


Then it dawns on me!! Why, oh why, am I washing all the dog stuff in the expensive stuff? The dog stuff can just as easily be washed using the generic - at half the cost! And it is even lavender scented!


OK - I suppose it is better that I figured this out now rather than later (or never)... but really, I can just hear the "cha-chings" adding up in my head when I think about all the money I could have saved!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dynamics Of A Spin...


A friend took this picture of Shelby spinning at our agility picnic a few weeks ago... It is probably the best picture I have of capturing favorite move of spinning. You can really see her bending to spin as tightly as possible. I've yet to figure out how she keeps from getting dizzy!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SC Freestyle Competition Results

We had a great weekend in Columbia, South Carolina for our last freestyle competition for this year. We had a wonderful time. The drive long, but it was an easy drive - especially since my friend Yvonne from Little Rock and her dog Aspen were able to make the trip with us.

The girls did very well. Roxie finished her Sassy Senior Championship on Saturday with a 1st place. This is our 25th WCFO title together. This little pup has come a long, long way. On Sunday, I bumped her up into the PDP (champion) class - and she got her first leg. I don't know if we'll continue to pursue this title or not, since you need five Q's with a 9.5 in both technical merit and artistic impression. That's a lot to ask from an older dog.

The other highlight is that Roxie & Shelby did a wonderful job on their brace - earning their first two advanced legs. We now only need to qualify their routine one more time for them to become the first brace champion team ever. It will be a challenge as it is a very hard class to qualify in - doing an advanced routine with one dog is hard enough, but trying it with two dogs at the same time is borderline crazy. I was just so happy to see Roxie having a good time again. Looks as though she's maybe moved past her worried about brace, so I'm hopeful we may be able to earn that last leg eventually. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Shelby did nicely and got her first two PDP legs. Her performance was not as solid as I would have liked with some focus issues at the beginning of each routine. So, we definitely know what we will be working on in practice. Seems like a good time to go back and reinforce the basics.

Pixie did a wonderful job on her Novice HTM routine. Saturday was a little shakey with a big attention break, but she still managed to squeak out a qualifying score. Sunday was probably the best I have ever seen her do this routine and it was darn near perfect for her. It's a pretty basic routine, but she's really starting to show some polish and potential.

Pixie and Shelby also did their brace routine and earned their first two Novice legs. I mostly entered to continue to get a feel for how these two work together. On Saturday, they came up with a really nice combination that we'll work to formalize. I also now have some ideas to start working a solid routine so that we can start trying to make it up as we go along. I'm hearing a circus theme in my head...

I was really excited to watch the other brace team. Melissa and her two pharoh-hound/basinji crosses did an amazing routine to "Walk Like An Egyptian". It was just wonderful and is probably one of the best brace routines I have seen.

All in all, it was a very good trip. It was also my first judging assignment, and I was very pleased that both Peggy & Cameron and Mandy & Sadie passed their proficiency tests. It was funny - judging was both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. Doesn't make sense - but that is kind of how it felt.

I was also really excited to be able to watch my friend Yvonne and her dog Aspen finish up their championship. I met Yvonne several years ago when she and her friend Cindy came to one of my workshops. It is so exciting to see how far they've come and to know that they've also developed a passion for freestyle.

Needless to say, after such a successful weekend - our drive home was pretty easy. We even made it from Columbia all the way back to Little Rock on Sunday. Well, I guess we technically arrived on Monday morning - but who cares. We were singing and dancing in the car all the way home. I'm sure the dogs (and those who were driving past us) thought we were crazy - but isn't that part of the fun?

This is our last competition for this year, and it's been an amazing year. Lots of titles finished, and lots of awards that have been won. I'll take a little time off and then start setting our goals for next year... but for now, sleep is my top priority!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Feeling Crafty...


Well, not exactly sure what has gotten into me lately - but I have been trying to figure out something to do with the 150+ qualifying ribbons I have. I was at the horse show and saw frames wrapped with ribbons, and figured I'd try to duplicate it. I don't think mine turned out quite as nice - but they'll work, and I don't think they turned out half bad.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Collar Making

I've had several people ask me about the collars we use for our freestyle routines. They are the easiest things to make, and only cost about $3 - $5 depending on the types of ribbons you use.

You can usually find the trims at any hobby or fabric store. For the bottom trims with the beads, these are sometimes found with the upholstery supplies. For the top trims, any flat ribbon will work - there are prints, sequin trims, and beaded ribbons that all work well.

Anyway - I put together a little how-to video in case anyone is interested in making their own.


video

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Fall...

Every now and then, we do something just for fun. Here are some pictures of the girls at the pumpkin patch.










Pixie Helping With The Harvest...












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Jacquelyn & Bonnie Waiting For The Great Pumpkin...
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Shelby Wagging Her Tail...
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Bonnie's In A Photo Contest


I entered Bonnie in a photo contest - unfortunately, it's one of those that you have to donate to vote. Fortunately, it will go to a really good cause. If she wins, the Oklahoma Beagle Rescue will get 25% of what is raised. The other portion goes to IMOM.org which is an organization that helps with vet bills for families that cannot afford them. They were really great when one of the rescue dogs needed surgery and we didn't have the funds. Mindy is now healthy and in a happy forever home.


To vote (or to see Bonnie's picture and story) - go to http://www.imom.org/photo-contest/entries/077-bonnie.htm . If you donate to voite, make sure you put "Bonnie Hurley #077" in the description so they know who you are voting for. :) Please feel free to crosspost to whomever you may know that might consider donating.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ohio Freestyle Competition Results

Well, we're back from Ohio and we had a GREAT weekend. This has always been a good show for us, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to attend once again. It was even more fun this year having another Oklahoma team along for the ride, as our friends Pam & Nike were able to travel with us.

I couldn't be happier with how the dogs did. Pixie, Shelby, and Roxie all did their best. At the end of the weekend - we Q each routine with a 1st place finish (four routines each day). Pixie finished her Novice MF and her Beginner HTM titles. Shelby & Pixie finished their Beginner Brace title. Shelby & Roxie finished their Intermediate Brace title, and Roxie picked up two legs towards her Senior Championship title.

I was very please with Pixie. I sometimes don't always give her enough credit, but this little dog has come a LONG way in the last year. This was a big weekend for her - 15 hours in the car plus two nights in a hotel before we even started the competition. Then she performed two routines each day. We have typically seen a drop in performance on the second day - most likely just not enough physical and/or mental stamina.

However, this weekend - while I could see it was harder for her, I actually think her routine on Sunday was better than Saturday's performance. At the least, it was equal which is a huge improvement for her. I think it is starting to click what this is all about.

I was also very proud of Roxie. She did a great job on her tango routine, and really tried hard on their brace routine. I haven't asked her to do brace for over a year. The last time we performed the routine in competition (in the same building, with the same music, with the same partner) she had a seizure during the routine on the first day and on the second day showed some real anxiety for performing.

I'm not sure if it is the music, the building, or having Shelby there (or a combination of all three) - but Saturday she did show some anxiousness about it, but did a very nice job. On Sunday, I could see it even more and she really did not want to do the routine. The judge was kind to us and did give us a qualifying score (which I was not expecting).

This was a big achievement as they are now only the second team to achieve an intermediate level title in brace. To date, no one has achieved a championship. I am going to re-evaluate this to see what our next step is. I have a new song picked out and we will perform in a different location if we keep up with the brace routine. I will also provide LOTS of reinforcement for working with Shelby to see if we can figure out a way to make her feel more secure about the routine. Or we may just retire from that division and be proud of what we have been able to achieve.

Earning this title qualified them to enter the ProStars competition, so we did send in a video of the routine to enter. The video was actually quite a good performance for them, so it felt good to be able to enter.

So, now it is time to reflect and decide what our next competition will be. Roxie needs one more leg to finish her Senior Championship. We've entered the video competition, but she just does not show well on video - so we'll have to maybe consider a live event.

But first, this week will be about sleeping!

Kris

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WCFO Freestyle Conference in OKC

I can't believe it has taken me so long to write about the WCFO Freestyle Conference that was here in OKC last month. It was a lot of work, but it turned out very well and it seemed that everyone had a good itme. The location was perfect - if you are in the OKC area and looking for a venue for a dog event - please check out the Bricktown Hotel & Convention Center. They were wonderful!

There is so much to write about - but the highlight of the week was that Roxie & I won the ProStars event in the musical freestyle division. This was very surprising considering all the wonderful routines that were entered, and I'm still not sure in which universe this happens. We were one of only two routines that performed live - and you never know whether that is going to be a good thing or not. While it is usually good for Roxie because the judges can really see all her energy and effort, there are no "do overs" and you are not guaranteed your best routine. Roxie was in good spirits and as we went along with the routine, everything just seemed to come together and she had probably one of her best performances ever. It was very cool to have everything come together at just the right time..
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Roxie really enjoys this tango, and hopefully we can use it to finish up her Sassy Senior Championship later this year.
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Shelby also placed 3rd in ProStars for Heelwork To Music - but before you get too excited, there were only three teams entered in that division. She just wasn't on that day, but she was very happy and had a good time. We may send a video fo her routine to enter the ProStars competition at the Holland event to show that she is able to perform a little better. But her tail never stopped wagging.
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This was the first time WCFO had offered two full days of competition at this event, and we were thrilled with the turnout - over 45 entries each day. It was strange for me to not be every 4th or 5th routine in the ring. I didn't enter as many routine as I normally do, and most of the ones we did enter were more for fun - so it was a much more relaxed event for me.

Pixie was entered in Novice MF both days. She did a very nice job on Thursday, earning a qualifying score and 1st place. In the past, we have seen a significant drop in performance with her on the second day of competition. She did have a slight drop on Friday, but it was a pretty good performance for her. I was very pleased with the fact that she seems to be getting stronger on her second day performances and am hoping that eventually her performance levels will be about the same on both days.

Roxie was entered in pairs with our friends Laura & Tilly. Our routine qualified both days and we were able to finish our Novice Pairs title. We really enjoy our pirates routine, but we're not sure we'll be able to carry it onto Intermediate. But who knows - we may give it a try. Roxie and I were also part of a team routine which included members from OK, TX, and OR. There were 9 of us performing to Wizard of Oz. We had Dorothy, the Lion, The TinMan, the Wizard, the Good Witch, the Bad Witch, Flying Monkeys, and Roxie & I were the Scarecrow. Unfortunately, we did not Q the first day and it is unlikely our team will be together at the same competition again - but it was a lot of fun and we had a really good time.
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I also entered Pixie & Shelby in a brace routine. When I entered, I figured I had a good month to practice and get the routine ready. Well, time being the way it is - it slipped by and I didn't get a chance to work the girls together until the Sunday before the competition. Needless to say, it did NOT go the way I had envisioned. I guess in my mind, I figured that with Shelby there - Pixie would work harder to keep us. Not so much... Pixie just kind of gave me the look of, "Well, Shelby's here and she can do all the work, so I'm just going to sit over here."
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So, we were the fourth team in after lunch and I'm sitting at the table eating my turkey sandwich thinking, "hmm, what can we do for the brace?" As I mentioned, Pixie's stamina is not as good as it could be - and not only was this the second day of competition, but it would be her second routine of the second day. I figured there was a good chance that she'd just sit in the middle of the ring and not budge. Ah Ha! Inspiration! "I'll just use chairs int he routine. If she's just gonna sit there - she might as well sit on a chair." OK - so we won't talk about the fact that I've never actually trained Pixie to sit on a chair - but she does like to jump up on my desk chair at home, so that's close enough, right?

As we get ready for our routine, I grab two chairs out of the audience, and place them facing about 10' apart. Pixie jumps up on one. That's good. I send Shelby off to sit in the other one (a move she knows from a prevoius routine)... And we're off to a pretty decent start.

Now, don't ask me exactly what we did in that routine. But the girls seemed to work nicely and Pixie was engaged for most of it which was nice to see. The last thing I do remember is Pixie body-checking Shelby off the one chair at the end. It was pretty funny - and then she wouldn't get out of the chair... so we had to carry them off with her still sitting there. As we got to the gate, she jumped down - and that photo is the funniest thing I've ever seen... "Pixie, this is air traffic control, you are clear to land on runway K9 as soon as Shelby clears the way". We did manage to get a Q on the routine, and now I have to try to figure out what we did so we can repeat it in Ohio!

The following two days were a little bit of a blur as I was trying to work through the emotional of loosing little Nellie. But the seminar presenters were all wonderful and I heard some really nice comments about all the workshops. It was so cool to have an event of this size in Oklahoma, and hopefully everyone had a really good time.
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Of course, there was the whole drama of trying to get my friend Gaby and the puppy she was taking home back to South Africa - but I'm thinking that is a whole other story.
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Now - it's time to get ready for Ohio.... we leave on Thursday!
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PS - The wonderful photos were all taken by Jim Poor Photography!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flying Beagle Ears...

I'm getting the feeling that I will see these a lot if we keep doing agility! Pixie is progressing - we're actually starting to see her "run" at times during practice. Hopefully that will start transferring over to trials and other locations too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What The Other Dogs Do...

Well, it was a rainy Sunday morning - and I was very tempted to stay home and stay in bed... but Roxie, Shelby, & Pixie and I went off to practice for our upcoming freestyle competition. I probably should have gone with my initial plan - since when we got to practice I realized that I had left the boom box at home... it's hard to do freestyle with no music! Then practice did not go as well as it could have - but we still have a couple weeks to work on things...

Anyway - when we get home, I'm a little curious as to why the dog room is so quiet. I realize I had taken most of the noisy ones with me... and when I walked into the dog room, this is what I saw - Jacquelyn and Bonnie taking a nap together on a rainy afternoon.

Aren't they cute when they sleep?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Megan & Nellie's Last Dance

We filmed this during Megan's stay with us this summer. Nellie loved dancing with her and we are so happy that they were able to have one last dance together.


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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Goodbye Little Nellie

This past week has been a blur. In the middle of our freestyle conference, I had to make the difficult decision to let little Nellie leave for the Rainbow Bridge. She had suffered another stroke and I could tell it was time. She was a sweet little girl and always tried her hardest. It was a joy to watch her grow from a very anxious little dog (we didn't call her "Nervous Nellie" for nothing) to where she could do freestyle routines and would cuddle with company when they came to visit.

She really enjoyed dancing with my niece Megan, and we were able to film their "last dance" when Megan was here this summer. I just copied it to DVD and we'll be sending it in for WCFO's September video competition as a tribute to little Nellie.

She will be missed...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Agility Pix...

Here are a few pictures from our first agility trial...

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Shelby Jumping...
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Pixie on the dog walk...
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Flying beagle ears....
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More flying beagle ears...
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Shelby's first agility title..
Pixie's first agility Q...
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Agility In The News



Here is a cute picture of Megan practising with Shelby... She had a good time "helping" me with the dogs this summer.


Monday, August 3, 2009

TDAA Agility Trial

We had a fun weekend at the TDAA agility trial in Norman. This was our first "real" trial and we had a lot of fun and really learned a lot.


Shelby did very well and ended the weekend having earned her first two agility titles! She completed her beginner title in Standard (T-BAD) and also in Games (TG1). She kind of got off to a rough start. The a-frame was very slick and as she was coming down, she was sliding - so she came off a little early and just barely missed her contacts. We'll also need to work on our downs on the table. She ended up coming off the table on her second standard run. But we haven't been working downs due to some confusion it was causing with our freestyle routines, so it was OK. All in all, she ran very nicely. I will need to continue to improve my handling, add some rear cross work, and find a solution for her fly-by's (which is probably just handling).


Pixie did very well considering she's only had a couple months of lessons and is still trying to figure out the whole learning process. The first run was touch n go, and she wasn't sure about the tunnels (they were smaller and darker than she is used to) and had a pretty big splat on the a-frame - see picture on right - which I think scared her a little. She had a clean run, but was 26 seconds over time. She Q'd in the second game - which is her first agility Q! Of course, she really only needed to do four obstacles to get the Q - but one was the tire which she just learned last Tuesday so that was still pretty good.


On the third game, she had a very nice run. We were able to stick to jumps, the dog walk, and the teeter and she actually had accumulated more points that Shelby. The whistle blew and we were on the table (the "bank" in this game) and I had a major brain fart. The whistle had blown, and everyone was clapping - so I just thought we were done and picked her up. What I totally forgot was that when the whistle blows, you were suppose to run across the finish line to stop your time. Since I had picked her up before we "finished", we were eliminated. It was kind of tough because she would have had a Q and a 1st place - but I also know that I will never make that mistake again... and I know each competition is just about what we learn to make us better for the next time.

She's no where near ready to move up levels anyway - so this will be just fine. I let my niece, Megan, run Pixie in the last game. They had a nice run going, but Pixie missed the tire (the "doubling" exercise) which caused her to loose half their points. They didn't Q, but ended up third and Megan had a really good time.

Shelby also got a Q in the second level of the Games class, so she's off to a good start.

Canine Sports Academy did a very nice job for their first trial, and hopefully they'll have more. It was nice to have a competition that was only a 45 minute drive away! I'll try to post some more pictures when I get them...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Video Competition Filming

We had a long day of filming yesterday. Unfortunately, none of the dogs seemed to really be in synch with things, so I'm not sure if we were able to get anything that will be good enough to send in.

The surprising routine of the day was Megan with Nellie. Nellie had a stroke back in January and hasn't really recovered 100%. In addition to a slight mental impact, it also has affected her physically as she has not quite regained full use of her left side. But Nellie did a great job for Megan and they had a very nice routine. We'll probably send it in and hopefully they can maybe finish up their title.

Megan tried really hard with Bonnie, but Bonnie does not always do so well in new environments. Her inability to focus as a result of her brain infection can really make things difficult. Megan was able to get her to do a couple routines that were "OK". Not sure if they will be good enough to qualify, but we may decide to go ahead and send them in after we review the tapes.

Shelby was just slightly off. She had some moments of brilliance in each go, but nothing that I was overly happy with as a whole. Roxie did pretty well, but I can tell her age is starting to catch up to her. Of course, she may not have been feeling 100%. As we were getting in the car to head home, Megan commented that Roxie didn't look right. When I looked back, I saw that she was having a seizure. It wasn't bad and she's doing fine now, but I'm sure that didn't help any.

We were able to get a couple good go's with our pairs routine. Since Bonnie was having challenges, we switched it up a little and Megan danced with Pixie and I danced with Shelby. We'll have to see how it looks on video, but it went pretty well considering the two dogs had never worked together.

I am starting to wonder why I entered brace at the upcoming competition. LOL My "test run" did not go as well as I would have hoped. I'm not sure if Pixie was just having a bad day (she was kind of slow on most things) or if she just thought that since Shelby was there, that Shelby could do all the work! We'll have to work on it some...

We have our TDAA trial next weekend, so that should be fun. I'll try to post some videos once I get through the filming and see if we have anything worth watching!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Look Pointed Toes!

I was really happy when I saw this picture to see that my toes are pointed. I think my friends and students get tired of hearing me say this, so it's nice to see that I follow my own advice!

Here is a link to another article that ran in an Omaha newspaper:
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Here is a little clip of the routine - her collar was a little itchy, but that happens sometimes... :)

Competition Results

We had a great time in Omaha! This competition was a little different for us as it was a demo/competition held at a big AKC show that also had conformation, obedience, rally, and agility. We hadn't ever been to a competition where there was so much going on - so it was something new for both me and the dogs.

In addition, the competitions were scheduled for the evening - after we had several demos each day. One of the highlights is that we were included in a clip that ran on the local news on Friday night...

Megan and I arrived on Friday. We did two demos and then started getting ready for the competition. The environment was not "ideal" as the ring was much smaller than we normally have and it was a little dirty from so many demos during the day. But the demos gave us a chance to work out the tweaks that were needed for the choreography to fit in the smaller area, so other than the bits of food on the mats - it wasn't too bad.

Megan was first in on Friday and had a really nice routine with Bonnie. Bonnie is not the easiest dog to work with since she is 13 years old and does have some brain damage. They hit almost all of their moves and choreography and really had a good time.

Unfortunately, Bonnie has an attention span that barely lasts one routine... and the activity in the building and everything else during the day had already taken a bit of a toll. So, our pairs routine and Megan's routine on Saturday did not go as well as we would have liked.

By Sunday, Bonnie was just not able to focus on anything - even during the morning demo when Megan had food in her hand. Bug, Megan showed what a true competitor she really is and handled it better than some adults might have. Even though Bonnie was just not there, she kept working and never gave up or showed any frustration or disappointment. She actually was able to get Bonnie to do a couple moves which was a huge success.

I know Megan was a little disappointed that they weren't able to get their title - but they did get the awards for High Technical and High Artistic combined over Friday and Saturday for the Heelwork to Music division. They also received the Judges Award on Sunday with compliments from the judge on how well she presented herself during a difficult time.




The other girls did extremely well too. Shelby debuted her new "Mary Poppins" routine and qualifed in the advanced division both days to finish up her Championship. She also won the High Overall Technical Score and High Overall Artistic Score for the weekend. This was quite an accomplishment for us (finishing her CH by getting 3 legs in 3 tries) and I was just thrilled with how well she worked. The exciting part was to see her actually get stronger as the routine progressed and to maintain her performance levels through all the demos and the two competitions. This was a big improvement for her.

Roxie did a great job and really seems to enjoy her new tango routine. She also qualified both days which finished up her Senior Masters (intermediate level) title. She's such a fun little dog and I really enjoy working with her.

Pixie had a great time and managed to earn her first leg in Novice Freestyle. Since we were resting Bonnie in the hopes that she might be able to do something (anything?) in the competition for Megan on Saturday, I let Megan demo with Pixie. I knew this might tire her out a little, but I also knew it would be more helpful for Pixie to get out in front of some big crowds and a very busy environment for the demos at this point than it would be for her to get a leg. She is no where near being ready for Intermediate, so I was very happy with getting one leg and letting her have the chance to perform in such a unique setting to help build her confidence.

Megan did an AMAZING job with Pixie and they looked very cute together. We will film Megan & Bonnie to maybe finish up their title, but then maybe next time Megan can dance with Pixie.


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All in all, it was a great weekend and we really had a good time. We had some time to visit with our freestyle friends - although it didn't seem like quite enough since I think most of the time we found ourselves either resting from one demo or getting ready for the next one... and I can't remember the last time that I changed clothes over 25 times in one weekend!

We're all pretty tired and will try to rest up this weekend... but it was a lot of fun!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Demo

Well, we had a very fun demo on Saturday at the Oklahoma City Dog Show... We had 14 routines by 6 different handlers with various dogs. I was really happy with how our routines went. Shelby's "Mary Poppins" routine is coming together quite nicely - she really likes her chimney and the crowd seemed to like her performance. Roxie did an outstanding job with her tango - she was more animated than I have seen her in a while and was even doing flips!

Pixie, as usual, was a hit with her tractor... I don't know what we're going to do for our next routine - I'm not sure she'll like freestyle if it doesn't have a tractor in it!

My niece Megan arrived from California and did a routine with Bonnie. She did a GREAT job, as Bonnie is not the easiest dog to work with... We will work with her a little more on handling, but she did really well and it was exciting to see Bonnie (at age 13) be so happy to be out there performing... or was it just the hot dogs???

We have just a little more than a week before we leave for our competition in Omaha - it should be fun!